Toronto Raptors: The team nobody wants to believe in

The Toronto Raptors are the team nobody wants to believe in and that is a bad thing. Continue reading for the reasons why.

The Toronto Raptors have a significant issue with confirmation bias. It’s challenging to be unbiased. I’m a Raptors fan who lives in Toronto. Therefore, I tend to have a preference in favor of the Toronto Raptors. However, there are NBA fans that aren’t fans of the Raptors, and they tend to be biased against the Raptors. Often the American media perpetuates these negatives biases because they want to share the same beliefs and values as their audience. It’s time to debunk some negative Raptors opinions.

“Raptors Don’t Closeout on Threes”

I am 100% guilty on this one. Over the years the Raptors have gotten burned on the long ball. This season it’s happened from time to time, but on the whole, the Raptors have been decent at guarding three-point shooters. At the time of writing this article, the Raptors are 8th best at defending the above the break three allowing opponents to shoot 35%. And the Raptors even better at stopping the left corner three by only allowing the opposition to shoot 34% which puts them tied for 4th best in that category. 

Where the Raptors get burned a little bit is from the right corner allowing 40.7%. However, they are not below the middle of the pack at defending that shot.

It’s also important to point out that players have become better shooters around the NBA in the last few years. So if you compare perimeter defense now as to what it was a decade ago, it’s going to look worse. I will continue to be triggered when I don’t see the Raptors closeout, but deep down I will now know the Raptors aren't bad at defending the three.

“DeRozan is Trash in the Playoffs”

Over the course of DeMar DeRozan’s career he hasn’t been outstanding in the playoffs, but last season he was only bad in two of ten games. When DeRozan is doing good DeRozan things the vast majority of the time it’s hard to call him trash. Furthermore, most stars had at least two off games in the playoffs last year. Some even had more. For example, John Wall’s shooting fell off a cliff towards the end of the Celtics series. Not only did Wall not get blamed for losing that series, but people felt bad for him because they didn’t feel he had enough help. The narrative that DeMar DeRozan is trash in the playoffs should have died last year. The January 1st game against the Bucks might not have been a playoff game, but it felt like one. The Raptors have a rivalry with the Bucks after playing them in the playoffs last year. The intensity of this game rivaled that of one of those playoff games and what happens? DeRozan dropped 52 which is not only a career high for him, but it’s the franchise record for points in a game.

  Photo taken by Keith Allison

“Dwane Casey’s Rotations Are Bad”

The Raptors are 12 players deep. For probably is the first time in franchise history, the Raptors have 12 guys that can play at a high NBA level. It’s easy to cherry pick something Casey could have done differently after the fact. When very few people thought Fred VanVleet was good coming into the season, Casey still gave Fred minutes. And then when Delon Wright when down he had seen enough from Fred to give him extended minutes. In the summer, Dwane talked about potentially playing DeRozan at point guard. DeRozan handles the ball a lot, but coach Casey has trusted his rotation enough not to play DeRozan at point guard. At the start of the season, Bebe was getting a lot of run as the backup center, but Casey has figured out Jakob Poeltl is the better player and has made the switch. There are often multiple good options Dwane Casey has had at his disposal for whatever situation the Raptors run into, and Dwane Casey hasn’t made many bad decisions this season.

“The Raptors Are Incapable of Moving the Ball”

Believe it or not, there are still people that think this. Two years ago the Raptors were 29th in assists. Last year Toronto was 30th. Before the season, it would have been understandable to think the Raptors were incapable of moving the ball. Times have changed. This year the Raptors are 10th in assists per game. The ball is moving a lot more, and the Raptors have diversified their offense.

“Valanciunas Has No Place in the NBA”

Jonas Valanciunas may not be a modern center, but how many of those are out there? You want your center to rebound. Jonas Valanciunas rebounds. You want your center to finish inside? Jonas Valanciunas does that. You want your center to hit free throws? Jonas Valanciunas hits free throws. You want your center to gamble for every block? Bebe is that, and he’s seen his minutes slashed. And at the end of the day it comes down to skill and Jonas Valanciunas is skilled. He may not be the shot blocker we are programmed to want, but he has plenty of other tools at his disposal.

  Photo taken by Keith Allison

“The Raptors Have Never Won Anything”

This statement is correct if anything is a title, but the Raptors have only been a franchise since 1995. When comparing franchises, we should look at each team in their first years of existence. Also, make sure those other organizations competed against 29 other teams during those seasons. This is the 5th straight season of the Raptors being a good team in the NBA. They likely won’t win a championship this year, but one day they will and then the haters will find a new argument to fit with their biases.

There is one team that is pretty close to perfect in the NBA. That group is the Golden State Warriors. The Raptors fall into the grouping of one of the 29 teams that aren’t the Warriors. If you want to be biased against the Raptors, you are entitled to that, but show up with persuasive arguments. Also, don't believe everything you hear. At least take the time to do a couple of clicks on the internet to make sure it isn’t fake news.

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